I don’t know why no one has thought of this simple, five step solution to the looming fossil fuel depletion problem facing the world. It’s simple, sustainable and I’m going to share it with the entire world right here, right now … for free.
- Gather up all plant and animal matter currently living on the earth and in the oceans.
- Bury it all between 7,500 and 15,000 feet underground, preferably beneath an ocean.
- Wait 300 to 400 million years.
- Drill down to it and pump it all back out of the ground.
Follow these five simple steps and we will have a never-ending series of 150 year supplies of cheap, abundant fossil fuel.
(Implementing space-based solar power would actually be cheaper, quicker, environmentally friendlier and every bit as sustainable … if we do it before the current 150 year supply of now-not-so-cheap fossil fuel runs out.)
Ad Astra ("to the stars"), the award winning magazine of the National Space Society (NSS), has recently published a special report covering space-based solar power (SBSP). This richly illustrated special report explains the technologies behind SBSP in an easy to understand way. Included is a fascinating conversation with Dr. Pete Glaser, now 84 and considered the father of the space-based solar power concept.
A large portion of the special report details the efforts of the Space-Based Solar Power Study Group who, in conjunction with the National Space Security Office (NSSO), published Space-Based Solar Power As an Opportunity for Strategic Security – Phase 0 Architecture Feasibility Study in October of 2007.
This special report includes the following five articles which discuss the potential for space-based solar power, with looks at its history, its current strategic importance and ways forward to make it a reality.
- ENERGY FROM ORBIT – John C. Mankins
- AN ENERGY PIONEER LOOKS BACK – William Ledbetter
- STRATEGIC IMPORTANCE – Space-Based Solar Power Study Group
- A NEW COALITION – Arthur Smith
- ON THE MOON – Al Globus
I shed a tear as I read the obituary of Sir Arthur C. Clarke yesterday. He regaled us with science fiction stories based on fantastic ideas of our future, both on and off the planet. He provided scientific commentary to us during the exciting days of Apollo moon missions, alongside Walter Cronkite. And he has given us many scientific ideas which have become realities like communication satellites, geosynchronous orbits and the space station. Sir Arthur also recently lent his support to the Google Lunar X-Prize competition.
When personal computers would barely fit in your living room let alone on your desk and the Internet was known only to a handful of DARPA researchers as ARPANET, I read a passage in 2001:A Space Odyssey that has stuck with me for over 30 years. It wasn’t even part of the story. It was a short note at the end of the book that said “The entire manuscript for this book was sent from Sri Lanka to my publisher in New York City on a single 5-1/4 inch floppy disk.” At that moment, I realized that if I one day become a writer, I could live and work from anywhere in the world. Little did I know what was to come … but I’ll bet Sir Arthur did.
Sir Arthur C. Clarke left us with three wishes:
“I would like to see some evidence of extra-terrestrial life.”
“I would like to see us kick our addiction to oil and adopt clean energy sources.”
“I dearly wish to see lasting peace established in Sri Lanka.”
He ends his 90th Birthday Reflections video with this quote from Rudyard Kipling:
If I have given you delight
By aught that I have done,
Let me lie quiet in that night
Which shall be yours anon:
And for that little, little span
The dead are borne in mind
Seek not to question other than
The books I leave behind.
Rudyard Kipling, 1939
The June 5, 1975 NASA JPL Goldstone Demonstration of high power long distance wireless power transmission successfully transmitted 34kw of electrical power a distance of 1.5km at an efficiency of greater than 82%. At the time, it was the world record for high power long distance wireless power transmission.
Guy Pignolet from the Sunsat Energy Council gave an interesting presentation about Space Solar Power on 7 February 2008 at a recent LIFT08 Conference.
To see the presentation on the LIFT08 Conference website, click here: Space Solar Power by Guy Pignolet
The SBSP FAQ page has been updated. All questions are now completely answered and several of them contain links to audio answers from the Bright Spot radio interview on the topic of Space Based Solar Power that aired in December of 2007.
The National Federation of State High School Associations – Speech, Debate and Theatre Association (NFHS SDTA) has announced Alternative Energy as the 2008-2009 debate topic. One of the suggested debate resolutions is:
Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase alternative energy incentives in the United States.
This is an excellent opportunity for the current generation of students to become aware of and involved in advocacy for space-based solar power. The students of today have much to gain from the development and deployment of space-based solar power since the majority of them will still be alive near the end of the 21st century!
Space-based solar power would make an excellent topic for a high school debate, research paper of perhaps even a science fair project. Whatever the forum, the more folks that learn about the potential for space-based solar power, the more likely that our political and private sector leaders will become aware of it and influence our energy future as a result.
The NFHS SDTA debate topic paper “The Crisis in Energy: Can the United States Live with an Insatiable Thirst for More Fossil Fuels?” outlines the many aspects of energy independence and alternative energies very well, however it overlooks the concept of space-based solar power. I will attempt to contact the authors and provide them with resources to learn more about space-based solar power.